Nurses from Oregon and Washington encourage you to celebrate responsibly by taking health precautions this holiday season.
Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, this holiday season offers hope that with sensible precautions we can gather together to celebrate the holidays safely.
While hospitals remain near-capacity and frontline nurses and health care workers are still strained, we now have the tools and knowledge to gather together during the holidays and celebrate relatively safely by following basic public health guidelines.
“It is important for family and friends to create memories this holiday season, especially after the pandemic kept them home last year. We ask that everyone carefully plan their gatherings so that illness isn’t spread, further straining nurses and the health care system,” said Oregon Nurses Association President Lynda Pond.
“We are all looking forward to spending the holidays with friends and family — something so many of us could not do last year. The pandemic is not over, though, and nurses and other health care workers are overstretched. We encourage everyone to take precautions to gather safely,” said Washington State Nurses Association President Lynnette Vehrs.
Nurses across Oregon and Washington ask our neighbors, families and friends to take the following steps to protect your loved ones, your community and yourself this holiday season and to support the frontline nurses and health care workers who continue the fight against COVID-19.
Here’s how you can enjoy the holidays more safely this year:
- Get your free COVID-19 vaccine or booster. COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective, and essential to stay healthy and to protect your family and friends. Nurses encourage everyone who is eligible for a vaccine or booster to get immunized as soon as possible. While it takes time to be fully vaccinated, starting the process now can offer additional protection for yourself and others.
- Get your free annual flu shot. Flu vaccines are your best protection against influenza.
- Visit Vaccines.gov to find a local COVID-19 vaccine or booster or a flu vaccine near you.
- Wear a mask indoors if you are not fully vaccinated or have a weakened immune system. Fully vaccinated individuals should also wear a facemask indoors in areas with significant COVID-19 transmission or if gathering in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces with unvaccinated or high-risk individuals. If you’re not sure, it’s safer to wear a mask.
- Wash your hands. Handwashing is a proven tool to prevent disease transmission. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Clearly communicate expectations. Even among family and friends, it can be difficult to know who is vaccinated or who is at a greater health risk from COVID-19. You can always ask about vaccinations and employ other health and safety measures like opening windows to improve indoor ventilation, meeting outside, maintaining social distance or asking unvaccinated guests to quarantine or get tested in advance.
- When in doubt, get tested. If you have COVID-19-like symptoms or have been recently exposed to COVID-19 you can visit your state’s health authority website to find COVID-19 testing options near you. You can also consider using a self-test at home before large gatherings as an extra precaution.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are sick, stay home and avoid hosting or attending gatherings.
- Practice self-care. The holiday season is difficult for many people and COVID-19 has changed our lives immensely over the last two years. Please remember to take care of yourself by making time to sleep, choosing healthier food and drink options, moving your body 20 minutes or more every day and connecting with others in ways you find restful and restorative. Even adopting one of these recommendations can help you towards a healthier, happier life.
While we look forward to a more “normal” holiday season this year, COVID-19 is still present in our communities and continues to drive hospitalizations and deaths, delay health care and negatively impact all Oregonians and Washingtonians—particularly those who have lost family and friends to this disease and to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 including our BIPOC communities.
Your nurses ask that you do your part during the holidays to celebrate safety to help protect yourself and the people you love.
Thank you for continuing to support your communities’ nurses. We hope you enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season.